Posts Tagged ‘Famous Five’

Day Trip 1

Good morning all! It’s time for Rambler5319 to give us a guest post about his recent holiday. Enjoy!


Over the next few weeks I’ll be describing some days out on my holiday a couple of weeks ago.

Today is that day we all look forward to – the first day of our holiday, the journey and hopefully arrival unless it’s a long long way. We’ve been looking forward to it for quite a while and for some it may even have been a whole year since the last one. It’s very exciting but also very stressful. Have we packed everything? Have we got the tickets & passports if we’re flying? If we’re driving, have we checked the car over the night before: fuel, oil, water, windscreen water level (remember it’s illegal to drive with the bottle empty!), brakes, all indicators & lights working, extra air in the tyres for a fully loaded vehicle etc. I actually think it’s a good idea to have a check list for stuff to take. Mine has built up over a number of years and the written version is now a spreadsheet. Occasionally an item gets added as I find there’s something that would be useful. (Previous years have seen me forget things like an alarm clock although nowadays a mobile phone will do, a torch, food containers for sandwiches for days out, bread, some tinned food & vegetables so you don’t have to run to the shops on the first day you arrive at your self-catering place and so on. Of course if you’re flying your list will be very different. Have you got a “holiday list”?

So once the list is checked off I get into the car and go. Suddenly the familiar roads which normally are the ones I travel to work take on a different feel because I’m NOT working and I won’t be coming back along them to go home after a day’s work. No, today they’re different because they’re taking me far away on my holiday!

This year my first stop was 130 miles away for 2 nights in Southwell (Notts). I have friends there and we catch up a bit on what’s been happening over the year: what the kids have been doing, what we’re doing and planning to do etc. The following day, as they were working, I visited Newark, a short drive away. It’s a town with a very long history.

Newark was established in the early 900s AD by King Edward “the Elder”. Remember the king numbering system we know today (Edward I, Edward II, Edward III and so on) didn’t start until after the Norman Conquest so kings were given other adjectival names to distinguish them from those with the same name; another Edward at a slightly later time was called Edward “the Martyr” (half brother of Aethelred “the Unready” who was murdered at Corfe Castle in 978 AD. For those of you who enjoy trivia connections remember Corfe Castle was the inspiration for Kirrin Castle in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books). Anyway Edward “the Elder” was a son of King Alfred the Great and Queen Ealhswith (of Mercia). He had battles with the Danes from Northumbria and East Anglia. Owing to its geographical significance being at the junction of the Great North Road (A1), the Fosse Way (runs NE from Exeter up to Lincoln) and the River Trent Newark became an important place to build defensive fortifications and then erect a castle. Originally built as an earthwork construction of a motte and bailey type it was replaced in stone by Bishop Alexander (the Magnificent, apparently). It took 10 years to build and was completed in 1133.

In Oct 1216 King John (of Magna Carta fame) arrived at Newark Castle but just 2/3 days later he died. A year prior to his death he had been challenged by the barons: men who held land in exchange for providing soldiers to the king and who had to attend the feudal court a kind of early form of parliament. (A nearby barony to me is that of Chester; the first recorded holder – in 1070AD – was a guy called Gherbod the Fleming who it is believed got it as a gift for fighting in the victorious army of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.) The barons wanted certain guarantees and a limiting of the king’s power and this was set down in writing in the document we know today as the Magna Carta. King John is portrayed as a bad king in the Robin Hood stories where Robin – a supporter of Richard the Lionheart (John’s brother) – was usually found holed up in nearby Sherwood Forest with his band of “Merry Men”. (Curiously after Richard’s death, parts of his body were buried at 3 different places in France: his heart in Rouen, his brain in Poitou, his body in Fontvrault and nothing in England!)

Pictures of Newark Castle give the impression of a fully-fledged building but behind the 3 main exterior walls little remains of the original building itself. image

Note the section of repaired wall in this next pic. Apparently at various times in its history, if it was left unprotected, stone robbers would come in and steal the actual blocks which had been used to build the castle walls.image

Then a view over the castle walls looking along the River Trent back towards the locks.image

Here’s one posted by someone on Flickr looking from the locks back towards the castle.

Note the lock keeper’s “cottage” is a nice modern two storey brick building. I left the castle and crossed the river by that “cottage”. I carried on along the path to where there was a boat repair yard. Here’s the sign on the gate.


Then I passed the Trent Navigation Wharf Warehouse


Next was where I turned left back over the river but this narrow stone bridge, in the next pic, carried on to the SE. There is a weir to the right of the pic with the usual warning sign that if you decide to go over it in a canoe (or anything else) the waterways authority will not be responsible for any injuries incurred. Of course, I threw away the piece of driftwood I’d been hoping to use as a surfboard down the near 90 deg slope!


Back along the road towards the town centre and over what looks like originally was a passage way between houses is this sign saying Cottam’s Yard.


Originally it would have led to a yard in which a number of dwellings would have been found. Often places like these would become slum areas owing to them generally housing the poorest classes of society. Check out this old map of the area at

Towards the top right you can see Simnitt’s Yard which was renamed as Cottam’s Yard. Look at the number of dwellings opening into the alleyway: I count 10 plus the two facing out on the main street! (The next yard down – Taylor’s Yard – is not quite so cramped with only two buildings along one side.)

I continued along the road and decided to draw some money out at the bank. I reached into my pocket, pulled out my card wallet and flicked through the pockets to where I always keep the bank card. It was at this point I had one of those panic moments – the plastic pocket which should have contained my bank card was EMPTY!! I hunted in both my trouser pockets. I rummaged through once, twice, three times but it was not there. I emptied the rucksack and repacked it TWICE! Nothing. At this point I reached for the wall to stop myself falling over in shock. Oh no! First day of my holiday and the card was gone. (Unless you’ve ever lost a card and had all the hassle associated with it I don’t expect you know how this sort of thing feels. Worse by far is of course losing the whole wallet or purse with ALL the different cards in. It’s a feeling you can definitely do without!) Had I been robbed? Had I put the bag down somewhere? No, I was sure it had been with me the whole time. Where had it gone? How could it possibly be lost? I’m always so careful. I have a routine: after each use it goes back into the wallet pocket, the same pocket every time. Ok, so sharp intake of breath. I have to get back to where I’m staying to see if somehow it’s there and if not get onto the phone to cancel it ASAP. The rest of my leisurely afternoon wander around Newark is now cancelled. I hot foot it back to the car. I reach the car park where I’ve used less than 2 hours of my all day ticket. Newark made money out of me that day! All the way back I’m reliving the previous 24 hours trying to think of everything I’ve done. Suddenly I remember that on the journey down I had stopped at a motorway service area and used the card to buy some stuff. I will ring them to see if it’s been handed in. However, I think I remember putting it in my pocket after buying the stuff and yet it’s not there now. I’m thinking perhaps I dropped it when I’d been putting into my pocket. You wouldn’t hear a plastic card drop with all the noise in places like that. Mind still racing I charge upstairs to my room. My overnight bag was searched. Nothing. As I was about to pick up the phone I saw my Youth Hostel card by the side of the bed. Now this is not just a plastic card on its own – it is held on the back page of a small cardboard covered booklet with a few paper pages inside on which you can collect the rubber stamps issued by each hostel when you stay overnight. It is just slightly larger than a plastic card. For some unknown reason I picked it up and out fell my bank card! Yippee! – heart rate slowed. Of course I remembered that I’d put it in my pocket to go away with in case I needed to use a hostel at any time. When I’d made my purchases at the service station I had indeed put the bank card back in my pocket but it had slipped right between the pages of my little YHA booklet and stuck there. Before going out to Newark I’d thought – no need to take the YHA card with me as I’m back here for tonight. I’d placed it carefully on the bedside table and driven off. Day 1 of the holiday was over – and what a drama filled one at that. I could do without any more scares like that.  

Things I once believed

That rottweiler was pronounced ‘rock-weiler’

That my mum was telling the truth when she said, “O, Laura, you’ve got to eat your sprouts, I got them especially for you.”

When a planes flies over and you stop and wave to it, the red light that flashes on its under carriage is the pilot waving back.

Sausage dogs just hadn’t grown up yet.

One day I would marry Michael Jackson.

I also believed that Lisa Marie Presley had ‘stolen’ him from me.

That I would grow my hair until it wad the longest in the world and get into the Guiness Book of Records.

I had a singing range similar to Mariah Carey’s.

My diary would one day be published, like Anne Frank’s.

There was a boy living in my attic like a fugitive.

That my Dad was saying “Whitey Ess” when he talked about a work training programme called YTS.

There was a possibility that I might well be stolen by monsters who could make my bed sink into the floor and into a pit where children were kept as slaves.

Life was like Famous Five books. I was always looking for adventures and was puzzled by the lack of smugglers and baddies.

An ode to my tooth

Tooth, we have spent many years together. There have been highs and there have been lows.

In our 27 years, 2 months and 25 days, we have seen plenty of action. We have sampled the local spicy delicacies in Laos, lived off rice in Namibia, eaten strange unnamed bits of animal in China and devoured our fair share of chocolate. I always showed you the best things, focussed on homemade. I even homemade tomato ketchup for us to enjoy with our fish and chips.

Ok, so I didn’t always pay attention to you. When I was younger, I was too busy naming my millions of cuddly toys or hurtling down the stairs in a sleeping bag to remember about looking after you. When my parents would shout up the stairs to check whether I’d got you ready for bed, cleaned you up, I’d shout back ‘YEAH!’ with my head in a Famous Five book. That was disrespectful toward you and I apologise.

But I was young then. I looked after you better as I got older. The past few years I’ve showered lots of attention on you, bought fancy expensive things to keep you sparkly, visited a hygienist for a thorough clean.

I was warned about two years ago that I should break it off with you, that we should go our separate ways. I was warned you would hurt me, but I was faithful to you. I dismissed their opinions as scaremongering. They didn’t know you like I did. I didn’t want to lose you.

But now… Now it is time. We both know it’s the right thing. We aren’t happy together anymore. Maybe you have grown dissatisfied with me because you have abandonment issues from our childhood? Or maybe you don’t know how to resolve things so you go on hurting me, knowing that I will eventually end things between us?

I don’t know. But the other night, I was so upset about how things are going between us that I was awake at 2am, my head in my hands, knowing I had to end it. It hurt me so much, but I knew what I had to do.

And so today will be our final day together, last tooth on the bottom left. I have been told that a replacement awaits it’s turn to push through and emerge. It seems that, in the words of Beyonce, “I can have another you in a minute.” They call it a wisdom tooth and say it will grow into the empty space that you will leave in my life.

I regret that it will end this way, in such violence, tearing you rapidly out. I’d like to say I will regret our parting but the dentist has assured me that I won’t feel a thing. I guess there has been too much hurt between us. I will feel horrible after it happens though, I won’t be able to eat a thing, I know it.

So now I bid you farewell, dear tooth. It has been amazing, the years we have spent together. I think we both know that our separating is for the best. We are not making each other happy anymore.

I will miss you. Always.

Books that remind me of stuff

One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Reminds me of being in Laos, in a town called Vang Vieng, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I hired a bike for the day and rode out into the fields by myself and found this abandoned bamboo hut up on stilts. I climbed into it and sat down and read the last few chapters of One Hundred Years Of Solitude while listening to a cricket on the roof and the sounds of nature. It was lovely.

Lord Of The Rings
The first one. I don’t remember what it’s called. I started reading it right before I flew back to Namibia. I’d lived there for a year on my gap year and was going back 10 months later to work for some friends. I was reading it on the flight and did quite a few changes so I read that book in Scotland, England, Holland, South Africa and Namibia. I loved that it had taken such a journey with me.

Paulo Coelho, I’ve forgotten what it was called
I read this in an airport somewhere. I think on the way to Morocco. My friend and I did a lot of travelling together over the space of two years and on this flight we had a stopover in Spain, I think. I had bought this book in the airport in London. In the airport in Spain, my friend slept and I was knackered but trying to stay awake and I just tore through this book. I had finished reading it in a few hours.

Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami
I read this while travelling through the Philippines with the same friend. We stayed in this little B&B on an island called Bohol. We’d found it because a lady on the boat there had started chatting to us when we were singing Whitney to pass the time. She told us to stay there and it was such a good find. No-one else was staying there so we pretended it was our own house! We stayed up late playing card games and reading. I loved this book! I finished it and left it there for the next guests.

I had been reading Shakespeare in school and not really liking or disliking it. I just didn’t understand it mostly. Something clicked at some point and I wanted to read more of it. I went to the English cupboard at school and borrowed a copy of Hamlet and loved it. I just got it. I remember feeling really excited because I knew there was a whole stack of Shakespeare out there for me to discover.

Leon: Ingredients and Recipes
I was a few months post-op last year and had finally got over my fear of eating (I was terrified in case eating caused the same problem and I had to go back to hospital and by this point I was pretty scared of hospital). I was eating more and was strong enough to stand up for the time it took to cook dinner. I found this book and loved the first section, about ingredients. If any of you are into food, this book is amazingly fascinating. I went on holiday to Portugal and was still quite delicate, so instead of jumping in and out of the water and running about, I sat reading this book in the sun. It was lovely.

Famous Five
Reminds me of my childhood in general and how much I wanted to be George.

The Janice Project
This was the first romance novel I read that formulated my idea of what my potential life partner should be like!

Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeta Naslund
I read this book in Namibia while I was training for a trek across the Great Wall of China. I used to go on the stair machine for an hour every morning to prepare. My body was fine with it but my mind was bored. A friend lent me this book to keep me entertained and it worked. A few years later I kept thinking about it but couldn’t remember the name. I was in an out of the way town in Texas, waiting for a bus, when I saw a little book shop in the distance. I thought I’d kill some time there and found a few books I wanted. I went to the till to pay and right there, next to the till was this same book! Same cover. I recognised it immediately and got it. It was just as good, if not better, the second time around. I’ve been daydreaming about visiting Nantucket since I read it.

The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd
I might have got his name wrong. Found this in Laos, in Luang Prabang. Opposite our hotel there was a little cafe/bookshop. It was the first I’d seen in Asia so I was pretty excited. We sat drinking exotic teas and absorbing the book joy. I found this tucked away on a shelf and loved the cover. It’s a woman’s diary of moving to Japan just after the war. I can’t emphasise how good this book is. If I could only read a few more books ever again, this would be one I’d choose. Read it.

Evidence of a misspent youth

I still know all the words to the ‘rap’ in Mysterious Girl by Peter Andre.


My Barbies and Kens had specially made (by me) paper underwear.


I know all the words to 99% of Backstreet Boys songs and can still do the dances that my cousin and I made up to about four of the songs from the album, Backstreet’s Back.


There are hours of video tape of me doing a ‘chat show’ on the camcorder.


My friend and I spent two weeks waiting anxiously for a reply to a letter we had written to PJ and Duncan (AKA Ant and Dec) saying we were going to their concert soon and were really good dancers and did they need backing dancers because we were obviously the people for the job. We had even made up some routines ourselves.


I have a drawer FULL of hair straightening products in my old bedroom… My hair has always been, and will always be, wavy/curly.


I have another drawer FULL of different coloured pens. I was extremely religious about what colour I underlined the date with, and whether it was a double underline or a squiggly line or a cloudy bubble thing.


There are hundreds of pieces of novelty wrapping paper dotted around my old bedroom. I never wrapped anything with them. I just kept them.


I have an exercise book full of ‘song lyrics’ I wrote (!). They were full of unrequited love and grand statements about life….. I was 14.


The vast amount of make-up I owned and the hours I spent in front of the mirror, with a copy of Cosmopolitan magazine, learning how to apply it… It always looked ridiculous and now I can’t remember the last time I wore any.


I spent at least 50% of my entire teenage years watching/re-watching/discussing/quoting from Friends.


I am now a Tetris demon.


I must have tried 5000 times to get past the big baddie at the end of the Starlight Zone on Sonic The Hedgehog and could never do it.


I spent a significant portion of my time wishing I was George from the Famous Five and pretending to be tomboyish. I even joined the girl’s football team at school and played half a match. Once.


I used to write and re-write (in different colour pens, with different underlining, in swirly writing or bubble writing) a list of the names I liked for my future children…. What a ridiculous idea!

Lots to get excited about!

Ok, I’ve been making a point to be more excited about things recently. I found some good stuff too. Joan Rivers’ birthday, Donald Duck’s TV debut, the Jubilee….

And today I have yet more to be excited about. This morning I went swimming. Again? I hear you all say, in admiration. Well yes, again. That’s three times in a swimming pool in the past few weeks. If I keep going at this rate, I’ll need to get some silly goggles and one of those tight caps in a loud colour, like yellow or red. O wait, there’s more. Not only did I go swimming, but I went in the outdoor pool today! How hardcore am I? Actually it’s lovely there because it’s got lovely trees all round it and the sky was blue and the sun was shining on my face and I could almost pretend I was on holiday. I also did a few more lengths than last time so am thinking of letting the Olympic Games committee know to count me in for next time around.

So after a fabulous start to the day I came home and baked some muffins…. Well at least it’s even stevens now. If I hadn’t been swimming then it would have just been the muffins and I think it’s generally frowned upon to just bake batches of muffins every day without at least pretending to do some exercise to have earned them.

They are banana bread muffins but I made them chocolate flavoured and put lots of cherries in them.

Another reason to be excited is because one of my other post-exam goals was to be more sociable and this weekend I have got that covered too. I am channeling my inner country bumpkin and spending the weekend in wellies with some uni friends.

Now the ‘lazy’ part of my username betrays itself a lot in my friendships. I am unfortunately quite a lazy friend. I’ve worked since I moved to London. Even around my full time undergraduate course, I was also working full time and volunteering part time. And when I was at uni, it was easy to see my friends because we were all in the same place. Then we all left, and my schedule didn’t get any less busy, and I didn’t make up for it by ensuring I kept in touch with everyone. So I’m very very guilty of having friendships that I don’t invest as much time in as I should. I will dedicate some time soon to seeing people more often.

That’s partly why this weekend will be so great. The main reason is of course that I’ll get to spend it hanging out in a tractor in wellies. That’s obviously the MAIN reason. But it will also be lovely to see friends again.

Double excitement then! Swimming and weekend away. Woop! I’m off to pack my going-away bag. Lots of waterproofs and warm jumpers! I love an adventure!

Omg, we could solve a mystery or something and then it really WOULD be adventure! I could live out one of my many childhood dreams, to be George from The Famous Five. Hopefully there’s a crime this evening when we arrive!

The difficult choices you have to make

The subject matter for today is something I spent a lot of time and thought on when I was younger. It’s the really big things in life that I used to debate in my mind. I was quite philosophical as a child, as you will see. These are some of the things I weighed up…

Which would be worse?
Never seeing my family again vs Never seeing Neighbours again

Which would be better?
A mobile phone vs A mobile TV (to watch Neighbours on)

When we’re playing Neighbours at school, which character do I want to be?
Beth vs Lauren

Which superhero quality is better?
Invisibility vs Flying

Which is my favourite colour?
Purple vs Orange?

Which is my second favourite colour?
Purple vs Orange?

Which would I choose to be?
A centaur vs A flying lion thing (Narnia characters)

Which should I visit first?
Narnia vs The island in the Famous Five

Which Famous Five member do I like the best?
George vs Julian

Which Backstreet Boy do I like the best?
Nick vs AJ

A few of these I’ve now settled in my mind for, being more grown up, I can obviously see that flying is a way better superhero quality. Just like purple is definitely the best, centaurs are amazing and George is the coolest member of the Famous Five. Phew, I’m glad I’ve got those things decided, because I now find more pressing things take up my time, like whether I prefer brownies or blondies and whether peppermint tea is better than spearmint. We all have our difficulties and I guess that’s the thing I’ll have to live with. Hard times.